Worried warm weather means bumps, burning and itching down below? Dr George du Toit, a gynaecologist and committee chair of the SA Society of Gynaecologists, is here to help.
“Itchy, sore bikini-line rashes from waxing or shaving tend to be caused by allergic reactions or bacterial infections,” says Dr du Toit. “Make sure you’re not having an allergic reaction to your wax, shaving cream or hair-removal formula by calling it quits for three days. If the rash eases up, your skin can’t handle that product. Ditch it and apply an over-the-counter antihistamine cream until the rash subsides.”
And always patch-test a new formula: swipe a tiny amount on your outer bikini-line area, wait 24 hours and, only if it’s all clear, use it on your entire bikini area. If you prefer a pro wax, insist your therapist uses fresh, non-scented wax.
Allergy-free? “Then you’ve probably got a bacterial infection,” advises Dr du Toit. “Shaving or waxing cause tiny nicks, which can be infected by bacteria, creating pimple-like bumps.” Avoid this by using a clean blade each time you shave (the bacteria can sit on the blade’s surface), and never sharing a razor with anyone.
And steer clear of seawater until your rash has cleared: “The salt will only worsen the irritation,” says Dr du Toit.
Sweaty weather + wet clothes from swimming = a not-so-fun party in your pants. “Yeast infections increase in summer, because bacteria thrives in a warm, moist environment,” explains Dr du Toit.
Got a thick, profuse vaginal discharge and severe itching? Buy a topical yeast-infection cream from a pharmacy. If it continues, see your doctor for a prescription oral treatment. “And don’t linger in wet garments,” adds Dr du Toit. “Get into dry clothes straight after a swim or workout.”
Have a burning feeling when you wee? It’s likely a urinary tract infection (UTI), possibly because you’re getting more action (holiday sex, anyone?).
“UTIs are very common in women, especially if you’re having an increased amount of sex, or are having sex for the first time,” explains Dr du Toit. Why? Having sex pushes lingering bacteria up into your body – which then travels up your urinary tract to give that burning sensation. “Go to the toilet as soon as possible after sex; urinating can help flush bacteria back out,” says Dr du Toit. Or take a post-sex shower.
Got a UTI? Dehydration from hot temperatures doesn’t help: “Drink lots of water to help clear out your system. Citro-Soda or cranberry juice also work,” advises Dr du Toit. “One UTI a year is normal; if you get a UTI more often, see your doctor for antibiotics.”
“Surprise hook-ups and missing the Pill – due to a lack of routine on holiday – can see unplanned pregnancies and STDs spike,” warns Dr du Toit. “If you or your partner haven’t been STD-checked recently, use a condom; condoms should be the first thing you pack.
“And take your Pill when you brush your teeth, so you remember. Missed one? Use a condom for the next seven days so you’re still protected.”
By: Sarah Browning | Photograph: Marco Grob